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Scent-sational celebrities

As Sach Toothpaste by Sachin Tendulkar joins the league of celebrity co-created products, we take a look at how these brands have bombed in India.

entertainment Updated: Apr 13, 2010 19:18 IST
Serena Menon
Serena Menon
Hindustan Times

SachinInternationally, owning a Birkin bag, designed by Hermes for the British actress Jane Birkin, is making a statement that says ‘you’ve arrived’. Back home, we have one of the country’s biggest cricketing legends launching a new toothpaste brand called Sach.

“Sach Toothpaste available in white paste (100g) with calcium and mineral and red and blue gels…” is not the ideal introduction for a product that one would expect to fit Sachin Tendulkar’s bill. Its tagline, ‘Ab Din Ki Shuruvaat Sach Se’ (Now start your day with ‘Sach’) is based on the understanding that, “like Sachin, toothpaste also performs relentlessly and is the most important aspect of starting your day,” says Devendra Chawla, head of private brands Future Group, who have launched this toothpaste.

Sach by Sachin
After using Shahnaz Hussain’s products to look pretty, and spraying on Amitabh Bachchan’s perfume to smell good, now you can wash away bad breath with Sachin Tendulkar’s toothpaste.

Says Chawla, “It’s an extension of our brands. When we approached him with the toothpaste, he was very encouraging. He even used it to give us productive feedback, which we could then incorporate into the brand and make it more Sachin.”

A very limited number of celebrities from the Indian film or glamour industry have merchandise named after them, unlike Hollywood, where most actors have a label to suit and sell their personality. Incidentally, most such Indian products have failed to please consumers.

Says Nitin Patel, from Decent Collection, a perfume store: “When something new comes to the market, we usually stock it to see what the demand is like. But there was absolutely no demand for Amitabh Bachchan’s or Shah Rukh Khan’s perfume. We had to show it to our customers and then if they liked it, they would buy it. Shilpa Shetty’s perfume, I haven’t even heard of. But I don’t think people would buy perfumes just because they celebrities had their stamp on it, they only buy international brands.”

The scented side
The lucky ones so far have been — Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, Zeenat Aman and recently, Shilpa Shetty. Aman, apparently, was the first Indian actor to have a perfume named, Zeenat, after her, by a company based out of Saudi Arabia.

While Shah Rukh Khan’s Tiger Eyes by Jeanne Arthes was launched in 2005, Bachchan’s perfume by his name, by Lomani, was launched in 2002. In January 2009, Bachchan also issued an informal notice on his blog, talking about the second perfume that he was to launch. The perfume is yet to hit the market.

“We had stored Amitabh Bachchan when it was launched, but do not keep it any more. The consumers demand more luxurious brands like Christian Dior, Davidoff, Givenchy and Calvin Klien and Armani, we have never had anyone ask us for any Indian celebrity perfume,” says Macwinn Fernandes, spokesperson for perfume section at the multi brand store, Shoppers Stop.

Fitness on sale
Shilpa Shetty produced a Yoga video of her own meditation sessions, soon before she launched her own perfume brand called S2. International publications then reported that the sales of the actor’s perfume had gained global appeal since her popularity from the Big Brother House and is competing with the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears’ perfume brands. But not many stores in the city seem to stock the product.

Most stores in the city that sell perfumes are either clueless of the existence of any celeb named brands or appear least interested in
giving it any space on their shelves.

Ad guru Santosh Desai feels that “the celebrity has become an intrinsic part of our lives and we too, have begun reaching out to them more than ever, but that’s not all that is needed for such products to work in the market.”

Shilpa Shetty 2007 perfume called ‘S2’ and Yoga video

Amitabh Bachchan 2002 perfume by Lomani

Bipasha Basu 2009 Workout video

Sachin Tendulkar 2010 Sach toothpaste, brushes and apparel

Zeenat Aman perfume called ‘Zeenat’ by Jeanne Arthes

Lata Mangeshkar 2000 ‘Lata Eau De Parfum’ by Gandh Sugand

Shah Rukh Khan 2005 Tiger Eyes by Jeanne Arthes

‘A celebrity co-creating a product is not enough’

Ad guru, Santosh Desai, feels only signing the celebrity does not ensure success of a product.

If you look at the overall presence of celebrities in the media, they have become an intrinsic part of so many programmes whether in television, advertisements or brands. There is enough evidence that suggests that we are moving from a time when celebrities were merely a face on the side of the product.

Increasingly, they are now moving inwards and becoming more central. They are not only endorsing products, but co-creating them as well. Co-creation requires them to become a part of the conception of the item — it could be a product of the media or even a fast moving consumer good. Sachin Tendulkar has co-created the brand, Sach, and there on, he has become far more visible than ever.

When it comes to keeping the product in the market, there is no one element that can do it. There is always a combination of techniques that keep a product stable.

They (marketers) need to sustain it, after the first level pull of the celebrity’s face has died out and if the long-term commitment with the brand has fizzled out, they need to do more.

If only signing the celebrity is the task at hand, then the rest will fail anyway.

Over the last 10 years, the involvement of celebrities has increased tremendously. Now, people might say this is a good thing or bad, but that’s for time to tell.

But now that this trend has been recognised, where some shows are more about the celebrity and less about the content, the question that needs to be asked is — Can the brands find a way to harness this movement? There is a lot of work that needs to be done on this front, but, clearly, the opportunity does exist.

On the contrary
Meanwhile, ad guru Prahlad Kakkar feels that Sach, with the name and credibility of Sachin Tendulkar behind it, will work even if it manages to grab two per cent of the market share.

“The moment a consumer sees a trustworthy face behind a product, he gives it a certain benefit of doubt. Endorsing a product is still alright, but a product that has Sachin’s name on it, will convince the consumer that Sachin must be 500 times more sure of this product than of any others,” says Kakkar. When asked whether a product named after a celebrity necessarily works, he says, “Yes, if they have the correct names attached to them”. What about Shilpa Shetty’s products? “No one would want to be associated with a brand that’s named after her. She’s dumb! But an Amitabh Bachchan brand, anyone would want buy. He’s more than enough to make anything sell, its how people can watch movies only for his
presence in it.”

— As told to Serena Menon

‘Sachin brushes his teeth with this toothpaste.’ Really?
Devendra Chawla, head of private brands, Future Group, who has been instrumental in launching this private product available only at select stores, talks about Sach.

What does the toothpaste and Sachin have in common?

It’s his values and humility that have been added to the product. Toothpaste functionally has to work on your teeth and Sachin stands for performance. We even have Sach toothbrushes and children apparels.

What do you mean when you say that Sachin has co-created the product and not endorsed it?

He has to agree with everything about the brand. He is a part of the making of the product, unlike endorsement where people do not even use the products they have endorsed.

Does Sachin Tendulkar brush his teeth with Sach toothpaste?

Yes, he does.

As a sportsperson, it would make more sense for him to co-create a sporty brand or sneakers line, or even perfumes, which is the common co-creation. What made you pick toothpaste?

It was an extension of the Sach toothbrush we already had. There was a lot of research done to bring out Sach toothpaste. We asked mothers what they thought of Sachin, and their most common response was: ‘I want my son to be like Sachin.’ So, the idea of tying up with Sachin was to bring out his essence to the coming generations.

What makes you feel this toothpaste will be able to bring Sachin’s essence to the youth and how?

Not just the youth… there is a fine line. It’s about how Sachin remains relentlessly innocent and represents uncompromising purity. We wanted to make a product that enhances physical performance and mental focus. Is toothpaste not a part of your physical performance?

- Serena Menon

Hollywood sells?
Beyonce’s perfume Heat – (Rs 2,429) $53.99
Beyonce and her mother introduced House of Dereon, a women’s fashion line in 2006. The line also includes sportswear, denim, fur apparel, handbags and foot wear.

Victoria Beckham’s perfume – Beckham Signature – (Rs 1,800) $39.99
Victoria Beckham has a fashion label, a denim brand called dVb style, a range of sunglasses and perfumes called Intimately Beckham. In
association with a Japanese store, she has also produced a range of handbags and jewellery.

Paris Hilton’s perfume – Heiress – (Rs 900) $19.99
Hilton helped design a collection of purses for a Japanese Label and a jewellery line for She was also involved in the creation of a perfume line by Parlux Fragrances. Her perfumes include Paris Hilton, Just Me, Heiress and her recent one called Can Can. She has also launched a clothes line.

Britney Spears’ perfume – Curious – (Rs 1035) $22.95
Spears endorsed her first Elizabeth Arden fragrance called Curious in 2004. It had a $100 million sale in less than five weeks. The pop star released several other fragrances, some of them are Curious: In Control, Midnight Fantasy and Believe. In 2009, it was announced that Spears has the number one selling celebrity fragrance, making up 34 per cent of all sales. Other Spears products include a doll and a video game.

Jennifer Lopez’s perfume - Live – (Rs 1,215) $26.95
JLO by Jennifer Lopez includes clothing for young and older women, swimwear, fragrances, eyewear, jewellery, hats, gloves, and scarves, outerwear, handbags, lingerie, watches and footwear. Sweetface and JustSweet are her other fashion ventures. Outside the USA, Jennifer Lopez sells her clothes in 38 freestanding stores and in 40 countries.